Among the top nine cancers, the highest survival rate has been experienced by patients who have had skin melanoma, confirms new research.
The study, appearing in the journal Annals of Oncology, involved the participation of eight Spanish regions which currently hold a population record of cancer (Basque Country, Navarra, Girona, Tarragona, Castellón, Albacete, Murcia and Granada). It shows all the cases of cancer diagnosed between 1995 and 1999 (57,622), their monitoring until December 2004, and their prognosis.
"The innovative factor contributed by our work is its relevance to population and measurement of relative survival, which enables us to discover survival related to cancer in a more precise way", said María Dolores Chirlaque, main author of the study and researcher in the Epidemiology Service of the Department of Health and Consumption in Murcia.
The highest survival rate for most of the tumours is observed in Finland, Sweden, Norway and Iceland. On the other hand, the lowest corresponds to the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia.
Chirlaque said: "In the past cancer was considered to be fatal. However, nowadays it has come to be recognised as a curable illness.
"Testimony to this is the results shown in this study, which indicate that of every four people who suffer from it (with the exception of lung cancer), more than three overcome it".
Breast cancer, the most common tumour in women, presents a high survival percentage: 83 per cent of patients have survived this type of cancer after five years.
Lung cancer is one of the most aggressive tumours and survival after five years is very low: only 10 per cent of patients diagnosed with a malignant neoplasm survive for more than five years.
Colorectal cancer (of the colon and rectum), the most common malignant tumour if we group men and women together, presents an average survival rate of 50-55 per cent five years after diagnosis, meaning that half the patients survive this form of cancer.
Prostate cancer, today the most common tumour in men, has an increasingly favourable prognosis, with a global survival rate of 76 per cent, which is higher in young adults.
Ovarian cancer presents a very varied prognosis depending on age: whilst 70 per cent of the group between 15 and 44 years survives this form of cancer, this is the case for only 19 per cent of those over 74 years-old.
Testicular cancer, a rare malignant tumour that mainly affects middle-aged males, is the tumour with the best prognosis, with a 95 per cent survival rate five years after diagnosis.
Skin melanoma displays one of the highest survival rates, reaching values over 85 per cent, although there are European countries where recovery exceeds 90 per cent.
Hodgkin's lymphoma displays high recovery with survival greater than 92 per cent amongst young people, although amongst elderly groups it fails to reach 50 per cent.